Some things are not what they always appear to be. If you scratch the surface you’ll see a whole lot more, such is the case with the former Silver Spring site, Park Farm, Folkestone, Kent.
On Tuesday 24th April at 7pm, there will be more than the Folkestone Seafront Development before the Planning & Licensing Committee of Folkestone & Hythe District Council to consider. Also on the agenda, item 8, is the former Silver Spring site – Y18-0066-SH. The mixed use retail park, spanning 3.8 hectares (9.4 acres), is set to be called Folkestone Gateway. However is all what it appears?
The land was purchased on the 24/10/2014 by Ravensbourne Gateway Limited for the princely sum of £5,428,000. The lender was Ravensbourne Holding S.A.R.L (Luxembourg), who according to Companies House have a charge on the land. Ravensboure Holdings S.A.R.L is owned by Adrian Kirby (pictured) and Atlantic Investments Ltd registered in the Cook Islands (an known offshore tax haven).
The Cook Islands for those of you who do not know has “legislation” which “circumvents tax requirements and gives individuals and corporations the ability of added layers of privacy and confidentiality. The Cook Islands have very strong asset protection legislation in place that prevents foreign authorities from accessing account information.” So how can Folkestone & Hythe District Council do any due diligence of any significance?
Now Y18/0066/SH states:
Redevelopment of the site to provide a hotel (4,979 sqm GIA) (Use C1 Hotels), restaurant and cafe floorspace (847 sqm GIA) (Use A3 Restaurants and cafés) and two ‘drive through’ units (total 451 sqm GIA) together with a new vehicular and pedestrian access from Park Farm Road, parking, servicing and all hard and soft landscaping.
Now a company called Ravensbourne Investments Ltd – owned by Ravensbourne Holding S.A.R.L (Luxembourg) and controlled by Mr Adrian Kirby and Atlantic Investments Ltd, “has worked extensively with the Council since closure of the Silver Spring premises, the demolition of the previous buildings and the refusal of a previous retail led application on the site. Therefore, our client shares the Council’s desire and ambition to see the site developed for a mix of uses to create employment and wider opportunities for the Shepway community.”
However, Ravensbourne Investments Ltd seem to invite the notion of residential dwellings on the site not just a hotel and restaurant/cafe. In their comment to the Places and Policies Local Plan Submission Draft, dated 19-03-18, their second objection is:
Secondly, in respect of the land required for employment and retail needs, subject to demonstrating that these uses can be delivered on the site, also taking into account market forces, then there is no reason to preclude associated residential as part of a mix of uses. Policy E1 (which we comment on separately) along with Policy SS4 of the Core Strategy, provide the necessary planning policy to encourage employment uses to be delivered on the site. Provision of residential dwellings on site would be highly sustainable.
Emerging trends encourage affordable residential accommodation in close proximity to employment leisure and convenience uses…
They go onto say
“Given the plan covers the timescales to 2031, it is important that land uses are not unnecessarily precluded or constrained in the future” and “the NPPF states at paragraph 157 states that Local Plans should ‘allocate sites to promote development and flexible use of land’ and they consider “non-residential introduces an unnecessary policy obstacle”
So is all what it appears at first sight? No. In short what Ravensbourne Investments Ltd are doing is using the Places and Policies Local Plan Submission Draft to preclude Folkestone & Hythe District Council from ruling out residential development on the site. That is their and Mr Kirby’s right. However, are Cllrs on the planning committee aware of the potential for houses? Would Cllrs on the Planning & Licensing Committee be happy with this.
So is all it appears to be Cllrs? We think not, there’s more to just a hotel, restaurant/cafe isn’t there? We’ll, just watch and see what unfolds on Tuesday evening.
The Shepwayvox Team
There are legitimate uses for offshore companies and trusts. We do not intend to suggest or imply that any persons, companies or other entities included in this blog post have broken the law or otherwise acted improperly, unless found so by a court of law.